Behind the scenes at Hull's new £25m Doubletree Hilton Hotel

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 15 Feb 2017

With a thick layer of mud and a few steel frames settling into place, it looks like any other building site.

But in the home of the former Lexington Avenue nightclub, one of Hull's biggest hotels is rising up to bring glitz and glamour to the city.

The £25m DoubleTree by Hilton is scheduled to open in Hull this November, bringing with it a huge conference centre and 165-bed hotel on the Ferensway site.

And at the helm of it all are two women from the region.

Helen Symonds and Sarah Whitfield talking about the Hilton

Sarah Whitfield, general manager, and Helen Symonds, director of sales, took the Mail for a behind-the-scenes look at work on the site - and expressed their pride at being involved with the exciting project.

"We both come from Hull and that is quite important," said Mrs Whitfield, who managed the Marina's Holiday Inn for ten years before taking on her new role.

Read more: Landmark Hull pub The Dram Shop set to reopen after city firm steps in

"I saw this opportunity and I love Hilton and the DoubleTree brand, and it will fit really well into Hull. I thought what a fantastic opportunity really, and a great opportunity for Hull as well.

"One of the things I'm really proud of is that I'm from Hull. The fact I'm from Hull and the fact the hotel is on the site of the former LA's, which I dare say everyone has a memory of, adds to the history of the site. I'm proud to be from Hull, and I'm proud to be helping bring this hotel here."

The DoubleTree will be adding to what Mrs Whitfield called a "shortage" of hotels in the city.

But she said she was confident more brands would come in the wake of 2017 and Hilton's arrival.

"I think what this hotel is going to do is almost act as another catalyst. Hull is in the spotlight and we have started to grow, and I think that was the catalyst for things like the DoubleTree hotel to come to Hull," said Mrs Whitfield, of Brough.

"I think it will bring forward other things. People should not just see it as a hotel, they should see it as help to bring more people to Hull and for those visitors to find out things about Hull that we always knew about but have kept secret."

For the time being, both are working out of a cabin a few feet away from the building site - but they can see everything that is going on.

Mrs Symonds, of Hessle, said she was looking forward to bringing large-scale events to the hotel's adjoining "flexible and pillar-free" conference centre.

"Being from Hull really means we have got an understanding of the City of Culture, the public realm and the space we have got in Hull already," she said.

"It's not just what we can do in 2017 but what we can do beyond that as well. And with the size of the conference centre which will be opening, it means we will be able to target and bring more large-scale events into Hull that the city has never had before.

"It will mean we can bring large scale exhibitions and provide a big conference space to Hull. That is the most exciting part for me."

With both coming from Hull, they said they are determined to ensure people from the region benefit from the Hilton's arrival - with the promise of 100 new jobs a major boost.

"This is really positive for the area, and there is a great opportunity for Hull people," said Mrs Whitfield.

"Our recruitment will start over the next few months and I'm really confident that there is a big opportunity for people that are from Hull. It's just a positive, feel good story.

"I know for a long time a lot of people thought would this ever happen. Now they can see the work going on and what will be coming to Hull."

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